What a cleverly conceived question for a mystery book premise: "...Is it more difficult to think of the solution to a problem yourself or to ascertain if someone else's answer to the same problem is correct...?"
Yasuko is a divorced mother who is trying to piece together her life and her teenage daughter's after surviving an abusive marriage. Constantly changing living locations and livelihoods couldn't stop her ex-husband from tracking them down. The latest confrontation causes the daughter, Misato, to accidently aid in the killing of her father while she's defending her beaten mother.
It seems that once again life has beaten down this pair. In a panic they turn to a neighbor who has a secret crush on Yasuko. He is a genius math teacher and lives in the apartment across the hall. He views the murder as a mathematical challenge. He convinces the mother and daughter to follow his exact instructions and swears that they will not be implicated in the ex-husband's death.
Thus begins the mouse and cat game betwixt the math scholar formerly known as The Buddha and his long lost college friend, Dr. Yukawa, known affectionately as Detective Galileo by the homicide detectives he sometimes aids in their investigations.
Higashino is one of the most widely known and bestselling novelists in Japan. To date, he has at least five TV movies and three TV series to his credit. His characters are all sympathetic. This plot, based on a famous math premise, is similar to reading the play-by-play of a chess game between two masters.
English majors need not hesitate from picking up this book even though math whizzes will be in undoubtedly cast into the calculus clouds.